With the Waikato region fast becoming a major centre for high performance sport, the University of Waikato has signed Memorandums of Understanding with BikeNZ and Triathlon NZ.
The partnerships provide a framework for top and up-and-coming young athletes to focus on sport and academia at the same time.
“Often people will give away sport to focus on education, or delay study to focus on their chosen sport,” says University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones. “What we want is for these high achievers to reach their full potential in both fields by making their journey through university as smooth as possible.”
A destination for elite athletes
BikeNZ and Triathlon NZ now have their headquarters in the Waikato, so Professor Jones said it makes good sense to establish a formal relationship with both sporting bodies and their elite athletes.
The university will offer Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarships to outstanding cyclists and triathletes, which means their course fees are paid, they’ll receive academic support, access to extra coaching and training advice and facilities, and opportunities to develop their leadership skills.
“This will be attractive to cyclists and triathletes from outside the region who want to attend university, and it will also encourage Waikato-based athletes to remain in the region to study,” says Professor Jones.
Triathlon New Zealand High Performance Director Graeme Maw says he anticipates the relationship between his organisation and the university will work well.
Pursuing sport and academia
"We’re committed to ensuring our young athletes develop to the best of their ability as athletes and people, and a full education genuinely helps them do both. It’s obviously a tough challenge pursuing sport and academia to the highest level, and support such as the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme makes this genuinely feasible. I’m delighted it’s happening."
The University of Waikato is the tertiary partner with the Avantidrome in Cambridge where both BikeNZ and Triathlon NZ are based and university sports scientists have already been working with the world champion track cyclists and the junior track cycling team.
Once on the Hillary programme the students will have to meet set academic standards and specific sport and personal development performance targets, working with their coaches their organisations’ high performance managers and the university’s high performance manager.